making acrylic pens (break away on lathe)

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Forum topic by 3285jeff posted 01-12-2015 04:40 AM 733 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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152 posts in 1136 days

01-12-2015 04:40 AM

,,im a newbie here and I have made maybe a dozen pens,,and I have made a few of the stars and stripes bolt action pen which has turned out great,,but tonight I just could not get something right and had the acrylic just to break away as I was turning it,,,,my tool set is the ones that came with a shopsmith years ago but they are large and I didn’t know if It would be better to get a smaller set for pen turning,,and normally I use a roughing gouge thru the whole process,,im kinda scared of the skew,,and I don’t know very much about the scraper,,can you help or enlighten me on what I might be doing wrong,,or what I should buy to help me inprove my skills,,kinda down in the dumps,,

3 replies so far

View Wildwood's profile


1850 posts in 1553 days

#1 posted 01-12-2015 05:18 PM

I use full size turning tools on pens and can turn from start to finish using roughing gouge. I can turn 3 or 4 acrylic pen barrels before resharpening because do not rush the cut & just letting tool cut.

Having said that some acrylic blanks very brittle so definitely need sharp tools and take it easy. Forcing the cut with a dull tool can wreck havoc on any pen blank.

When you can start sanding acrylic with 400 grit or micromesh your tools are sharp & not forcing the cut.

-- Bill

View kKirk's profile


8 posts in 647 days

#2 posted 01-14-2015 10:57 PM

Been several years since I’ve turned some pens, but make sure your holes drilled in the pen blanks are straight and true clear through the blank and the correct size. Starting and stopping while drilling without a good clamping system can cause an irregular surface and create voids between the blank and barrel. Second make sure the barrel is getting complete glue coverage to bond with no dry places. Any time I’ve had a blank explode I will notice I’m not getting full coverage from the brass barrel to the blank. Acrylic I’ve notice produces more chatter since the material is harder and doesn’t shear when it hits your turning tool. Just need to slow down with acrylic. Gouge will still work just fine.

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


2295 posts in 1827 days

#3 posted 01-15-2015 05:19 AM

Be aware that heat builds up quickly with this material and then it becomes very brittle. Sharp tools a others have said are a must. Speed kills and builds up heat as well. When I use it I take breaks and let the stuff cool while I work on something else. Practice some with making something other than a pen,. Maybe make a few handles with some acrylic on the end and see how it reacts as you cut.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

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